The Diana (Grade 1)- $500.000 Purse
SAR- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Turf
July 21, 2018
It will soon be post time at Saratoga once again! Great racing is set to go at the Spa, and I’ll hopefully get a chance to make up there in person this year. I’ve moved further away from the race track now, so the once a week real life visits are now just a memory. In virtual racing, I am excited to get a chance to cover these great stakes, and we’ll start this off with the Grade 1 Diana on Sunday, and excellent turf race for fillies and mares. It is a race that has been won by many greats over the years, including a couple of repeat winners: Miz Liz in 2009 and 2010 and then A Little Oblivion in 2011 and 2012. Darling Harbour and Attraction are a couple more names on the list of past winners. We won’t have a repeat winner, but last year’s second place runner, missing in a photo, is back for another try against the likes of BC Fillies and Mares Turf winner, Good Line, and many other of the best in the game of this division. Let’s have a great race, and take a look at the field!
#1- Peppermint Miss (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by C J Lanerie)- After a successful career running for Allinthegate, this filly was sold in private sales two months ago to D J C Racing Stables for $350.000. She has made one start in her new silks, and it looked a lot some of the races before the sales, with a solid 3rd place showing in the Grade 1 Just A Game. She knows how to be near the front, as she has hit the board in 15 of 16 career starts, with the only miss being her debut race. You can’t go wrong with that kind of production. The Just A Game was her first Grade 1, so she hasn’t always seen the best in the division.
#2- Mandy Mo (Angelos Stable, ridden by Alan Garcia)- Like Peppermint Miss, Many Mo is also coming in to this race off the Just A Game, but for her, it was a race win. That race was a furlong shorter, and Peppermint Miss was coming at her in the stretch, so it’s worth making note of that. There’s still the others in here that have to be handled as well. That’s just fine, because after all, she is as hot as one can be right now, with a three race winning streak, and seven wins in her last 10. When she doesn’t win, she’s also very good at finishing in the money. This is the fourth straight race for Alan Garcia to be riding her, as well.
#3- Broken Chat (Estero Farms, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- While the Chit Chat filly did win on the turf for her debut race, she did not see the grass again until very recently. She fared well on the main track, but has been thriving since returning to the grass. In those three races, she has won twice, including the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at SA in April. Picked up a fourth place check in her last start, the Grade 2 Nassau at WO. This is an upgrade for her, but be watching for her in the stretch as she likes to come from off the pace.
#4- Snacks (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by L Saez)- The first four races of her career were quite modest, but she was able to win half of them. Then, the trainer took a big shot with her, running her in the Grade 3 Providencia, that was won by Broken Chat. She’d finish in the middle of the field, but it was decent effort, considering the jump she making. After an optional claiming win that followed, she came from well off the pace to narrowly miss in the Grade 3 ET Mint Julep Handicap at CD. This is a pretty tough assignment, and speed figures could suggest she needs to pick it up just a little to have a chance, but we can never rule anyone out.
#5- Killer Angels (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R J Albarado)- Winner of five out of 21 career starts, this Calling The Gods filly has been inconsistent in her career, and it has kept her from being a more well known name in this division. She has had some great starts, such as the Grade 1 Gamely at SA in May where she was second to Commanding Faith, and defeated Good Line. Then, there are those off the board finishes sprinkled in. She was unable to follow up that Gamely run in the Grade 1 Just A Game. Her best races seem to come at exactly nine furlongs, which is what we are going here.
#6- Good Line (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The winner of the BC Fillies and Mares turf last fall has continued to have a strong season as a four year old, but she does still search for her first graded win of the year. Having the great F Pennington in the saddle will certainly help in that regard. She seems to be at her best was coming from the middle of the field, but in her last few races, she has gone out to the lead. Good Line is definitely due for a win, but I am leaning towards the trainer’s other runner here. (This means Good Line probably wins).
#7- Musical Treat (Mb Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- The trainer calls on the services of L H Colon, another one of the great jockeys of the game, to come to SAR for opening weekend to ride one of his horses. Musical Treat is on a great run of form right now. Sure, it’s only two races, but I was impressed with her effort in each of those victories: the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at BEL, and then the Grade 2 NY at the same track. Those were each at longer distances then she runs today, but that should not be a problem for her.
#8- Ghost Runner (Sizing Europe Lodge, ridden by E R Da Silva)- Last year, Ghost Runner was here for the Diana, and nearly came away with the win. She finished second, beaten by a neck by the since retired Darkest Days. Since that race, the five-year old mare has only raced four other times. She was sold later that year from prior trainer Pumpkin Racing to Sizing Europe Lodge for $350.000, and she has run second twice. Everything seems fine with her, we just haven’t been seeing enough of her. The most recent start was a second place finish to Mandy Mo in the Grade 1 Just A Game.
#9- Trump Princess (Winning Link Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Making the 11th start of her career, the Quick Echo has four wins, but three of them have come in her last five races. Back in May, she impressively won the Grade 2 CD Distaff Turf Mile on soft turf, but also scored a Grade 2 win, the Royal Heroine at SA, on firm turf, so she is an all-weather horse. She has regularly been racing exactly a mile, and this will be the first time she goes over that. I believe that’s a long time coming for her, and she is going to like the added furlong. She didn’t fire in the Just A Game for some reason, and that’s a concern because she’s meeting several of those again here. If the trainer knows why that happened, then all is well.
#10- Commanding Faith (Crocker Ggs, ridden by E Maldonado)- The Prudent Commander filly was able to qualify for the BC Fillies and Mares Turf last year, and while that race did not go all that well for her, she has been hot since then. She has won three of her four races afterwards, starting with a three length rout in the Grade 3 Megahertz, before holding on to win the Grade 2 Buena Vista, each at SA. She is coming off a win in the Grade 1 Gamely Stake, over both Goold Line and Killer Angels, as a 65/1 longshot. Don’t expect to get odds anywhere near that for her here.
#11- Alligator (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J K Court)- It’s a short turnaround for this one, having raced just two weeks ago at BEL in the Grade 1 BEL Oaks. In that fourteen horse field, she was able to pick up a fourth place check. It’s the two races before that, that were impressive wins, including a three length victory at the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes at SA in June. Prior to that, she enjoyed the rain and came from well off the pace to win the Grade 3 Gallorette on PRK day at PIM. Short turnarounds don’t usually concern me too much in this game, but most in here are well rested. Add that to having to start from this post, it gives her a tough obstacle to overcome.